Many of us are finding additional ways of looking after ourselves. For example, have you considered that aromatherapy is a good option for self-care and therapy? Of course, we know that we should seek advice from our doctors for medical problems, but there are many ways to increase our sense of wellbeing and positive mental health on a regular basis, and raise our levels of contentment.
Aromatherapy involves the practice of using essential oils for therapeutic benefit. These essential oils are basically plant extracts. They have been processed by steaming or pressing some elements of a plant (flowers, bark, leaves or fruit) to harness the compounds that produce fragrance.
Essential oils can be inhaled or absorbed by the skin. A massage therapist might add some drops of wintergreen to base oil to help relax tight muscles. A skincare company may add lavender oil to bath gel to create a soothing bath-soak. So, any helpful effects are likely to come from the smell or absorption of the oils. They also work positively on your mind and spirit.
When inhaled, the scent molecules in essential oils move from the olfactory nerves of the nose directly to the brain and impact the emotional centre of the brain.
Aromatherapy massage is a well-known way of using essential oils because it works in several ways at the same time. Your skin absorbs essential oils and you also breathe them in. Plus… you experience the physical therapy of the massage itself.
Historically, essential oils have been used therapeutically for over 6,000 years. The ancient Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used them in cosmetics, perfumes, and drugs. Essential oils were also commonly used for spiritual, therapeutic, hygienic, and ritualistic purposes.
More recently, René-Maurice Gattefossé, a French chemist, discovered the healing properties of lavender oil when he applied it to a burn on his hand. He then started to analyse the chemical properties of essential oils and how they were used to treat burns, skin infections, gangrene, and wounds in soldiers during World War I. In 1928, Gattefossé founded the science of aromatherapy. By the 1950s massage therapists, beauticians, nurses, physiotherapists, doctors, and other health care providers began using aromatherapy.
Some essential oils are considered to: have the following beneficial effects:
- an anti-inflammatory effect that may help with arthritis and muscular pain
- fighting off infection
- reduction of sleeping problems and lessening of anxiety
There are many essential oils, all with unique fragrances and chemical content. Which essential oils are best depends on what symptoms you are l experiencing and looking to ease — or which fragrances you like best.
Some of the most popular essential oils include the following:
- Lavender: Many people find the lavender scent soothing and relaxing. It is often used to help reduce stress and anxiety and it is thought to promote good sleep.
- Tea tree: This oil has antibacterial properties and is used to help wound healing. It is often used for the treatment of acne, athlete’s foot and insect bites.
- Peppermint: Peppermint essential oil can help relieve digestive problems when taken in an enteric-coated capsule (from a trusted health supplement provider). It can also help to relieve tension headaches when applied topically.
- Lemon oil: The citrus scent of lemon oil is considered to be a mood enhancer.
It is considered to be one of the most enjoyable and acceptable therapies enjoyed internationally, and provided it is used wisely, it is perfectly safe.
While never being a substitute for medical care, it can help a person – with some wide-ranging benefits. Many people enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy alongside more traditional medical treatments. Aromatherapy is often given in a nurturing, relaxing and enjoyable environment, and this can be a contrast to standard medical treatments that are necessary.
Aromatherapy is used in a wide range of settings — from health spas to hospitals and hospices — to treat a variety of conditions. In general, it seems to relieve pain, improve mood, and promote a sense of wellbeing.
ADL provides an in-depth course in Aromatherapy. Why not start a new hobby – or even a career in this exciting field?
By Iona Lister